Wednesday night I listened to the debate between the two candidates running for L.A. County sheriff— current Sheriff Alex Villanueva and former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. They were both incredibly horrible and unfit to lead any kind of department. When I was in the 7th grade I was a school crossing guard. Neither of those clowns would be fit to have led our unit, let alone the largest sheriff’s department in the U.S. and the 4th largest local police agency in the United States. It has 9,915 sworn deputies, many of them life-long career criminals and gang members, and 9,244 unsworn support staff. The leadership of the department has been excruciatingly bad for as long as I can remember, with a long history of racial profiling, police brutality and over-the-moon corruption. Villanueva is the worst department head I can recall, although Lee Baca (1998-2014) was almost as bad.
Listening to Villanueva, vicious asshole, and Luna, an ignoramus, debate made me shudder about the agreement the Democrats had just made to pass a package of “We love the police” bills, all 4 of which, in fact, passed yesterday. The package was some kind of a compromise based on New Jersey Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer’s original FUND THE POLICE bill, passed yesterday (360-64) as the Invest to Protect Act. It allocates federal grants to small law enforcement agencies that encompass fewer than 125 officers. Thank God neither Villanueva nor Luna will get any of the money!
9 of the most progressive Democrats + 55 from the Gang Greene voted no. Gang Greene members like Madison Cawthorn (NC), Lauren Boebert (CO), Gym Jordan (OH), Matt Gaetz (FL), Mo Brooks (AL), Mary Miller (IL), Matt Rosendale (MT), Andy Biggs (AZ), Michael Cloud (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ) and, obviously Traitor Greene voted no, because… that’s what they do. 153 Republicans voted for it, McCarthy and Scalise ducking the bill.
The Democrats who voted no, should be proud to have stood up on principle:
Cori Bush (MO)
Ayanna Pressley (MA)
Jamaal Bowman (NY)
Andy Levin (MI)
Jimmy Gomez (CA), who has a tough race from the left
Mark Pocan (WI)
Maxine Waters (CA)
The second bill to pass was Katie Porter’s Mental Health Justice Act, which is also a grant program, this one “to train and dispatch mental health professionals to respond, instead of law enforcement officers, to emergencies that involve people with behavioral health needs.” Every Democrat + 3 Republicans (Brian Fitzpatrick, Jaime Herrera Buetler and Michelle Steel) voted for it. 206 Republicans voted No.
Next up was Steven Horsford’s Break the Cycle Of Violence Act, which is meant to establish “federal grant programs and related entities to support violence intervention initiatives” in communities where there is a disproportionate amount of homicides and other forms of violence.” It passed 220 to 207, just one Republican, Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) joining all the Democrats in favor.
And, the last of the bills to pass was Val Demings’ VICTIM Act, which is meant to establish a grant program for all enforcement agencies to establish, implement, and administer violent incident clearance and technological investigative methods, in other words going after cold cases that involved gun violence. It passed 250-178, all the Democrats + 30 Republicans in favor, 178 Republicans in opposition.
After the last vote I spoke with Connecticut Democrat, Jim Himes, a member of the bipartisan Anti-Bullying Caucus. He told me that Congress and society “must demand the very highest levels of professionalism from our police and support them in their critical work to keep us safe. Today’s bills help strapped, smaller police forces, provide for mental health professionals to take the lead where warranted and provide resources for training. Today’s bills will save lives.”
Virginia Blue Dog Abigail Spanberger was the first to rush out an ad touting her support for funding the police: